we're on a boat

  The white, 11 passenger van pulled up in front of the 7-11 at the plaza around 3am.  None of the stores around had opened yet, people were still asleep, but the driver opened the door to find an 84 year old nanay already waiting on the bench nearby.  She had a flashlight in one hand, a sweater on her shoulders, and her temple recommend in the other hand.  She was ready and waiting.

One by one, everyone showed up and piled into each seat in the van.

Right after this picture their bed broke.
Jackie and Rachel woke up to a cell phone ringing, letting them know that they were the last ones the group was waiting for.  With no time to shower or cook rice for their kids to go to school, they pulled on skirts, grabbed their temple recommends from the shelf next to the bed, and ran all the way to the plaza.  

The van finally pulled out of the lot around 4:30am, completely full of still half-asleep Filipinos, but wide-eyed in anticipation for the day.  There was a orange-red sun that filled the entire sky, and was just starting to come up behind them, almost waving goodbye.  Kids were waking up for school, store owners were sweeping their sidewalks, and 11 recent coverts from Guagua started the trip to Quezon City, Manila.

They were off to storm the temple.

It was a 4 hour ride, with no air-conditioning on a day that managed to reach a cool 96 degrees outside.  Because they were the last one to arrive earlier that morning, Jackie and Rachel were stuck in the back, where Tatay Guanlao kept teasing them and telling jokes that made no sense.  The only other loud voice came from all the way in the front.  Sister Abella was naming names and passing back blue and pink temple cards to each person in the van.  The only other thing to really pass the time was think about what was waiting for them, and what they would be doing with those colored cards once they got to the temple.
a windstorm

It was everyone's first time making it to the temple, and when the van finally made it, everyone piled out with mouths open, admiring the size of the big white building in front of them.  They weren't sure what to do, but lots of nice old people soon came out to greet them and showed them inside.  

Each had brought with them a newly signed temple recommend, that they gladly, proudly showed to the man in front.  One by one they went in, names in hand.

Dressed in all white, each member was able to do baptisms for the dead.  Some baptized parents, grandparents, children, and cousins.  Guagua branch was able to complete over 100 colored cards in that day, each one representing a family member receiving the gospel.  

Nanay Espiranza (my favorite 84 year old nanay) went into the water to be baptized for her mother.  When they read the first name (which wasn't her mother) she protested, and proclaimed, even in English, "That's NOT my mother!"  The same with the second and third names, until the fourth where she refused to go on until she heard the name of her mother.  Her mother's name was finally read, and a big, big smile came to nanay's face as she went down in the water and came up crying.  
my favorite grandmas here

She then exclaimed "It's just one more step until I get to heaven!"  All the temple workers were a little surprised at the sudden loud voice from a very small lady:).  

Guagua branch was at the temple all day, but it came to an end as they all piled back into the big white van that would take them back.  Everyone was so sad to leave, all promising to find more names so that they could come back again someday.  

The van was silent the whole trip home, still full of 11 Filipinos, now asleep, that were tired from a long trip.  Sister Abella still sat in the front (our family history consultant) and sorted all the now complete pink and blue name cards that the temple workers had given back to her.  

my grandchild (the trainee of my trainee)
Jackie and Rachel walked home after the trip, tired but happy.  They turned the corner and found the sister missionaries coming from the opposite direction, who got big smiles and ran towards them, asking question after question about the trip.  They asked about every detail, every person that went, until they had asked every question they could think of.  

I'm so grateful to have been put in this branch, and to see the people I love finally make it to the temple.  It was so cool to see them go through each step before getting to this point.  Finding ancestors, visiting cemeteries, figuring out how to work a computer, and becoming worthy to receive a temple recommend.  

The temple is definitely where it's all at!!!!